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ED 475 719 

HE 035 816 





The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, 1990-2002. 
Massachusetts State Board of Higher Education, Boston. 

Reports - Descriptive (141) 

EDRS Price MFOl/PCOl Plus Postage. 

Accountability; Educational Finance; ^Educational History; 
^Higher Education; ^Policy Formation; ^Public Colleges; State 
Agencies; State Programs 

Massachusetts; ^Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher 


This report traces the history and accomplishments of the 
Massachusetts Board of Higher Education over the past 12 years, during 3 
state administrations. In the early 1990s, as the Commonwealth was feeling 
the impact of recession, the perceived quality of the system was declining, 
as were enrollments and retention. State policymakers and leaders made a 
deliberate effort to raise the national ranking of the Massachusetts public 
higher education system. In 1991, Governor Weld changed the organizational 
structure of public higher education in Massachusetts, establishing the 
Higher Education Coordinating Council, now the Board of Higher Education, and 
more centralized administration. In 1996 new tuition and fee charges were 
established, and in 1998, increased accountability and more cost effective 
use of resources were promoted by the institution of a performance 
measurement system. Other reforms between the early 1990s and the present 
contributed to improved quality, strengthened the partnerships among all 
levels of education, promoted workforce development, improved educational 
facilities, and expanded endowments. The report also outlines challenges that 
face the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, including the needs of an 
increasingly diverse population, the requirements of the knowledge-based 
economy, and financial constraints. (SLD) 

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Over the past twelve years, under the leadership of the Weld, Cellucci, and Swift 
administrations, Massachusetts public higher education has become; 

V more accessible 

V more diverse 

V higher in quality 

V more responsive to the workforce needs of the 
Commonwealth and 

V more accountable for its performance. 


In the early 1990s, the Commonwealth was 
feeling the deep impact of the recession. 

Resources for public higher education were 
declining steeply. Increasing budget 
pressures, rising unemployment, and an 
unstable pattern of state support made it 
difficult to effectively plan for and manage 
the system of public higher education. Over 
the period 1979-1993, the number of 
Massachusetts 18-year olds had fallen 45%. 

The perceived quality of the system was 
declining as were enrollments and retention. 

Rising tuition and fees were undermining the 
affordability of public higher education for 
many families. Costs at Massachusetts public 
higher education institutions were the 
highest in the nation, and support to higher 
education as a percent of the state’s budget 
was among the lowest. 

Some Facts: Then 

• 1 18,885 (FTE) students were 
enrolled at public institutions in 
Massachusetts in fall 1990. 

• Average tuition and fees at 
public institutions had 
increased from $1,528 to $2,456 
between FY 1988 and FY 1991, 
an increase of over 60%. 

• State appropriations for higher 
education had dropped by 
33% over that same period and 
were $4,545 per full-time 
student by FY 1992. 

• Financial aid for students at 
public institutions was less than 
$250 per student. 

o Charges to students rose as a 
percentage of the state's 
median income from 6.8% in 
1990-91 to 9% in 1993-94. 




After the Commonwealth rebounded 
financially from the recession of the early 
1990s, state policymakers and leaders made 
a deliberate effort to respond to the 
unacceptable national ranking of 
Massachusetts’ public higher education in 
terms of cost and state support. To assure the 
system’s accessibility and affordability while 
strengthening quality, a three-pronged 
strategy was initiated: 

■ Reduce tuition and fees 

■ Increase financial aid 

■ Increase state appropriations 

The success of this strategy has been 
demonstrated by consistent growth in 
student enrollment and the state’s steadily 
improving national rankings on both cost and 
state support indicators. In fact, the growth rate in the Massachusetts public higher 
education system has outpaced the growth rate in every other state in the nation. 

Some Facts: Fall 2001 

• 123,612 (FTE) students are 
enrolled at public institutions. 

• Average student tuition and 
fees ore $3,229. 

• Financial aid for students at 
public institutions is $550 per 

• State appropriations per full- 
time student reached $7,630. 

• Charges to students as a 
percentage of the state's 
median income fell from 9% 
in FY 1994 to 7% in FY 2000. 

RESULTS (FY 1991- FY 2001) 

Soon after taking office in January 1991, Governor Weld appointed a Commission to 
study the future of state and community colleges in Massachusetts. He charged the 
Commission to review the mission, programs, financing, and governance of the state 
and community colleges. The recommendations of this Commission led to many of 
the results described in this report and continue to guide the Board of Higher 
Education today. 

Changed the Structure of Massachusetts Public Higher Education 

In 1991 , Governor William Weld changed the organizational structure of public 
higher education. The new organizational structure: 

o Established a Secretariat for Education with overarching responsibilities for 
elementary, secondary, and higher education. 

o Placed all five University campuses under a single board of trustees for the 
University of Massachusetts. 

o Gave greater authority to the local boards of trustees at each state and 
community college. 





Replaced the Board of Regents with the Higher Education Coordinating 
Council (now Board of Higher Education) The Board of Higher Education was 
given the responsibility for defining the mission of public higher education 
and establishing goals to achieve a well-coordinated quality system of public 
higher education in the Commonwealth. 

Increased Access to Higher Education 

In FY 1996, the Fair Share approach to establishing charges at public institutions 
was instituted, reducing tuition and fees by more than 12% from 1995 to 1999. In 
2002, under the Fair Share Plan, undergraduate students paid no more than 33% 
of the net cost of education at the University and state colleges and no more than 
25% at community colleges. 

o Established the State and Community College Access Grant Program, 
enabling students whose family income is less than $32,000 to attend 
community and state colleges at no cost and students whose family income is 
between $32,000 and $80,000 to pay only $500 per year at community 

o Introduced the UPLAN in 1995, a savings plan that guaranteed that prepaid 
college tuitions savings would keep pace with inflation. It was rated the most 
successful program in the country on a per capita basis. 

o Public institutions awarded 26,627 degrees in 2001, a five-year record high; 
85% of the degrees conferred were awarded to Massachusetts residents. 

o Degrees awarded to minority students increased 27.4% between 1997 and 

2001 . 

o UMass Online and the new Massachusetts Public College eLearning Network 
are making learning accessible to students throughout the Commonwealth 
through distance education. 

Ensured Accountability and Cost Effective Use of Resources 

In 1998, Governor Cellucci signed a budget that established a performance 
measurement system for public higher education to assess how well campuses 
were meeting several statutorily mandated objectives. The Board and staff have 
accomplished the following: 

o Approved more focused missions for the three segments of public higher 
education and for each campus. 

o Developed a Performance Measurement System, holding campuses 

accountable for achieving their missions and specified objectives and the 
Board responsible for monitoring results. 

Er|c 5 

o Required each campus to undergo an annual external audit and each campus 
board of trustees to have an audit committee. 

o Implemented a post-tenure review process for faculty in all three-segments of 
the system. 

o Instituted a Full Disclosure Policy, requiring campuses to publish an estimate 
of the full cost per student, the level of state operating subsidy, and the net 
cost of their education. 

o Implemented with the Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic 

Research (MISER) the Placement Accountability System (PAS) , proposed by 
Governor Weld to track the placement of graduates of public institutions in 
the workplace. 

V Improved Quality 

o Approved higher admission standards for the state colleges and the 

o Reduced the number of students entering four-year colleges needing 
remedial coursework. 

o Created Commonwealth College at UMass Amherst and the first inter- 
segmental network of honors programs in the country. 

o Implemented a common academic assessment program and standards for all 
incoming degree students to ensure that students will be placed in college 
courses for which they are prepared. 

o Conducted external reviews of academic programs in Computer Science and 
Information Technology, Criminal Justice, Physics, and Chemistry. 

o Discontinued 75 low-enrolled or underperforming academic programs. 

o Enhanced teaching and learning through funding SMART classrooms on every 
campus and state-of-the art computing equipment and technology. 

V Strengthened Pre-K-12 - Higher Education Partnership 

o The Education Reform Act of 1993 called attention not only to the crisis in 
public education but to the critical role of higher education in the preparation 
of teachers. 

o In 1995, the BHE began the College-to-School reporting initiative. By 
providing information to high schools about the success of their graduates 
who attend Massachusetts public colleges, the Board of Higher Education 



MMljlRlffTIflliU ■ 


enables schools to evaluate their effectiveness in preparing students for 
collegiate study. 

o Following the results of the first Massachusetts Teacher Test in 1998, the 

Cellucci/Swift administration asked the Board of Higher Education to prepare 
a report on what could be done to improve the quality of teacher preparation. 
The report, Creating Tomorrow (1998) , recommended specific goals for the 
higher education community, and the campuses, under the leadership of the 
Joint Commission on Educator Preparation (2000) , made many of those 
goals a reality. 

o Through the Task Force on Teacher Preparation in Public Higher Education, 
presidents of state and community colleges have established standards for 
overall program improvement, recruitment and community outreach and 
have sponsored the development of statewide articulation agreements 
enabling community college students to transfer to four-year teacher 
preparation programs. 

o Through the federally funded Title II Eisenhower Grant Program, the BHE 
distributed approximately a million dollars annually to partnerships of schools 
and public and private higher education institutions to improve teacher 
recruitment, training and support, particularly in math and science. 

o As one strategy to address the growing shortage of teachers from 

underrepresented groups, the legislature appropriated $2.5 million in the 
FY03 budget for grants to paraprofessionals working in the public schools 
who seek to complete baccalaureate programs and become fully licensed 

o Each year over 1 , 100 residents prepared at state colleges and the University 
pass the teacher certification test and become licensed Massachusetts 
teachers. All public institutions currently exceed the state-mandated 80% 
pass rate on this test. 

o After statutory changes eliminated the post of Secretary of Education in 1997, 
the Governor made the Ghancellor and Gommissioner voting members of 
each other’s boards. 

o In 2000, Governor Swift established the Joint Committee on Educational 
Policy, calling on the Board of Education and the Board of Higher Education 
to work more closely together to improve public education in the 
Gommonwealth. Most recently, the Gommittee has proposed a plan to create 
pathways to further education for students who graduate in 2003 without 
having passed MG AS. 

o The Gommonwealth was one of five states selected for the American Diploma 
Project, a national initiative to align high school standards with college 
entrance requirements and workforce skills. 

Er|c 7 


V Promoted Workforce Development 

o Since the early 1990s, there has been a growing understanding by the Weld- 
Cellucci-Swift administrations and by successive legislatures that public 
higher education is central to the economic and social development of 

o The higher education system was recognized as one of the “ competitiveness 
partners” in the 1993 guidance document developed by the Executive Office 
of Economic Affairs, “A Statewide Strategy for Job Creation and Economic 

o The Workforce Training Incentive Program was established in FY 2001. Its 
goals were to promote workforce development, minimize the shortage of 
skilled workers, and increase economic opportunity by providing incentives 
to colleges to form partnerships with businesses in their communities for 
workforce training and development. 

o Enrollments in non-credit workforce/job skills training at community colleges 
grew more than 60% in four years, from 33,327 in FY 1997 to over 55,468 in FY 
2001. During that same period, certificates awarded increased over 25.3%. 

o The Commonwealth Information Technology Initiative (ClTl) provided a 
framework and resources for public institutions to work collaboratively with 
industry to modernize and expand computer science and information 
technology programs system-wide. 

Improved Educational Facilities 

The Weld, Cellucci, and Swift administrations have invested over $300 million in 

capital funds to maintain and enhance the higher education facilities in the 


o This commitment has led to the construction of facilities such as the Polymer 
Science Center at UMass Amherst, a state-of-the-art science center at 
Worcester State, the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury 
Community College, new academic facilities at Bridgewater State College 
and North Shore Community College and a new Library and Resource 
Learning Center at Quinsigamond Community College. 

o The Board of Higher Education has undertaken a Strategic Capital Planning 
Initiative with the Division of Capital Asset Management. The results of this 
thorough review of the condition and use of campus facilities will guide BHE 
recommendations for the major renovation and new construction projects to 
be requested in a new capital authorization bond bill. 

o These projects allow the Commonwealth to offer a more affordable education 
than private institutions with equally well-equipped facilities. In addition, 





capital projects such as those mentioned above provide jobs to various 
construction related labor forces. 

y Expanded Endowments 

In June 1996, the "Public Higher Education Endowment Incentive Program" was 
created. This program provided matching state support to encourage private 
fundraising by the University and the state and community colleges. 

o Between FY 1997 and FY 2001, campuses raised over $125 million through the 
Endowment Incentive Program. 

o During that same period, the state provided matching funds to the campuses 
totaling over $50 million. 



V The Massachusetts public higher education system is the fastest growing 
system in the country. 

Higher education leads to higher earnings and a higher standard of living and 
qualify of life for the residents of the Commonwealth. 

V 85% of the jobs in o knowledge-based economy require post-secondary 

V Over 63% of the Massachusetts residents graduating from high school and 
attending college in state attend public institutions. 

V 75% percent of public higher education graduates enter the Massachusetts 
workforce after graduation. 

V Public higher education is the principal post -secondary entry point for the 
minority and low-income students that will increasingly make up the student 

V Graduates of public institutions serve nearly 14,000 different employers in the 
Commonwealth, supporting more than one in six employers. 

The mission of Massachusetts public higher education found in statute (accessible, 
affordable, accountable, of high quality, and responsive to the academic, technical, 
and economic needs of the Commonwealth and its residents) continues to guide the 

ErJc 9 


work of the system today. With the support of the Weld-Cellucci-Swift 
administrations and the Legislature, public higher education campuses have 
become “opportunity institutions.” The Board is committed to ensuring that these 
same opportunities are available to the next generation of students. 

Public higher education has accomplished much in the past twelve years. There is 
still more to be done. Unfortunately, the current state of the economy, increased 
unemployment, and a series of unexpected budget cuts create an environment of 
uncertainty that presents the same challenges in planning and managing the system 
as those experienced in the early 1990s. 

More now than ever before, the Commonwealth’s economic growth and recovery 
depend on residents of the Commonwealth having access to affordable, quality 
public higher education. A high quality educational continuum from K-16 is critical. 
Research has shown that there is a significant jump in earnings for persons holding 
an Associate’s degree over those who have no college degree. ‘The jump is more 
than $10,000 a year for full-time, full-year employees. Increased earning potential 
through the attainment of college degrees is the significant key to providing 
individuals with opportunity for a high quality of life in the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts.” {Massachusetts Public Higher Education: A Shrewd Investment with 
Significant Returns, January 2002) 

Although Massachusetts has the fastest growing public system of higher education in 
the country, state appropriations for public higher education are not keeping pace 
with those in comparable states. Even with strong support for higher education from 
the Governor and Legislature from 1995-2000, and despite ranking among the top 
ten states in terms of state wealth and tax revenue, the Commonwealth has lagged 
consistently behind many peer states in terms of actual dollars appropriated per 
student. The budget for public higher education fell by 6.2% in FY 2001 and an 
additional 5% ($56 million) in FY 2002. Low-income students, whose primary access 
to higher education is through public institutions, are most likely to bear the brunt of 
these cuts. Others will be affected as well. 



Peer Comparison Massachusetts vs. Peer State Average 
Annual Percent Change in State Appropriations 
FY1998 to FY2002 

The investment in Education Reform at the K-12 level has been critical and highly 
successful. The challenge is to ensure that future Massachusetts high school 
graduates are not denied the opportunity to take the next step that leads to higher 
earnings and greater contribution to the life of the Commonwealth. While the 
percent of the state budget allocated to K-12 education has increased from 1 1% to 
19% over the past 10 years, the portion devoted to higher education has stayed 
between 4% and 5%. 


The role of public higher education, in contrast to that of the more than 96 
Massachusetts independent institutions, is to meet the needs of the Commonwealth. 
An overarching question that must be addressed is the nature of the relationship of 
the system of public higher education to the Commonwealth in the 21®‘ century. 
Much like Governor Weld did in 1991 , the new administration may want to consider 
forming a Commission to study and make recommendations on the role of 
Massachusetts public higher education in the 21®^ century, building on the recent 
initiatives of the Board in the areas of pre K - 16 articulation, workforce 
development, and regionalization. 

There are several areas that need to be addressed: 

1 . How can the system best serve an increasingly diverse population while 
continuing to meet the needs of Massachusetts knowledge-based 
economy? Between 1983 and 2000, employment trends demonstrated a 
strong shift from manufacturing jobs that require few basic skills (down 31%) 




to service sector jobs that require higher levels of education and training. 

Such an economy demands well-rounded, highly-skilled graduates, 
especially those with backgrounds in math, science, and technology. 
Economic recovery will require a new approach to collaboration between the 
Board of Higher Education and the Office of Economic Development. 

2 . How can the system of public higher education be more accountable? 

Accountability for campus performance has been a priority for the Governor, 
Legislature, and the Board over the past decade. The development of a 
performance measurement system has had many challenges, but great gains 
have been made. The Board’s lack of authority for rewarding performance, 
for creating incentives for specific improvements, and for tying budget to 
performance has hindered the effectiveness of the performance measurement 

3 . How should the Commonwealth finance public higher education? How 
should the goals of access and equity influence policies guiding the 
setting of student charges? Over the past 20 years, the Board has adopted 
several different approaches to funding public higher education. Currently, 
funding is not tied to either institutional performance or enrollment. All tuition 
is returned to the Commonwealth except tuition from graduate and continuing 
education students, populations that are dramatically increasing on most 
campuses. Fees, set and retained by campuses, are used by campuses to 
compensate for decreases in state appropriations. Increased fees and 
decreases in appropriations for financial aid run counter to the goal of 
providing access to an increasingly diverse population. 

4. Is the current configuration of the public higher education system - e.g., 
three segments, 25 campus Boards of Trustees, and one 
coordinating /governing Board - the most effective and efficient for 
meeting the future higher education needs of the Commonwealth? For 

example, several times in the history of Massachusetts public higher 
education, the Board has considered a regional approach for coordinating 
public education. Such an approach would integrate the social, economic and 
workforce needs of regions and the educational needs of its residents from 
early childhood throughout their lives and careers. A statewide board would 
continue to ensure accountability of institutions and promote quality, 
accessible higher education for all Commonwealth residents and recommend 
the reallocation of resources. The benefits of viable, regional collaboration 
deserve study. 

5. How can relations be improved with faculty, staff and other employees at 
our higher education institutions? The vast majority of higher education 
employees belong to collective bargaining units. The current economic 
situation makes it difficult for bargained contracts to be appropriately funded. 



6. What sources of financing will need to be defined and developed in order 
to meet the documented need for improved campus facilities? The Board 
of Higher Education has recently undertaken a review of the 24 state and 
community colleges' facility needs for the next ten years. A similar review is 
needed for the campuses of the University. Based on projected enrollment 
growth overall, the BHE sees its greatest challenge coming in the next ten 
years. The review uncovered the need for an aggressive schedule of 
renovation and modernization of higher education facilities across the 
Commonwealth. In order to meet the projected enrollment growth, public 
higher education will need new facilities in select regions of the 
Commonwealth. The challenge is how to afford all of these necessary capital 
projects across the system. BHE's current bond allocation will not cover the 
entire anticipated cost for the next ten years. 

To sustain the Commonwealth’s commitment to students to provide quality, 
accessible education over the entire continuum, Massachusetts higher education 
institutions must be able to depend on sufficient and consistent funding. Such a 
commitment is essential to our economic growth and recovery and to 
achievement of equal opportunity for our young people. This is our greatest 

U.S. Department of Education 

Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) 
National Library of Education (NLE) 
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EFF-089 (1/2003)